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Open VistA Community Proposal

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  • fred trotter
    Hi, At the CONNECT conference, Brian Behlendorf, Kolodner and several other VA employees who might wish not to be named helped me get a 2 minute audience with
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 10, 2009
      Hi,
      At the CONNECT conference, Brian Behlendorf, Kolodner and several other
      VA employees who might wish not to be named helped me get a 2 minute
      audience with the CTO of the VA Peter Levin. We exchanged information and
      agreed to email. The very fact that there is a CTO of all of the VA, rather
      than just seperate departments is a huge development, this is a tacit
      acknowledgement that the VA is a technology creating organization (what a
      CTO does) rather than a technology managing organization (what a CIO does).

      A few days later I sent him a typical (for me) rant, with about ten
      links to the various things I have written about the VA and VistA. I told
      him that I though the attempt to proprietary portions of the code was a bad
      idea and that the centralization of the development of VistA (as opposed to
      other VA IT functions) was a bad idea. If any of you have read my blog you
      can have a pretty good idea of what I put in the email. I basically
      complained about every failing of the VA that I have heard at the WorldVistA
      or other FOSS conferences. I tried to have a more positive tone than my
      standard over-inflammatory style at the prompting of Nancy (thanks for that)
      and other more calming voices.

      The response that I got back was amazing. He essentially said that he
      agreed with many of my points, and even sent me some of his own writing that
      correlates with some of the ideas in my letter. His one criticism was that I
      was not -asking- for something that he could act on. He specifically asked
      for a shorter actionable proposal to fix the problems between the VistA
      community outside the central VA and the VistA community inside the central
      VA.

      So what do we want from the VA? I can think of several very specific
      things that I might include in a response. I will throw them out here for
      community comment and then send a letter based on the consensus (if there is
      one) on the issue. Here is what I would like to see the VA do.

      - Create a bridge-person: Create a role to interface between VistA-inside
      and VistA-outside. Fill that role with someone who is capable of speaking
      VistA and open source. Someone like Brian Behlendorf, a federal employee who
      serves as the community manager for the CONNECT project. That person would
      be expected to go to WorldVistA conferences etc etc and provide a face for
      this collaboration.
      - Overturn the moratorium of local VA hospital VistA development.
      - Reinvest in local VA hospital VistA instances. Centrally managed
      instances of VistA, with locally deployment. Flawed VistA modules from one
      hospital should not take down the VistA instance of another hospital.
      - Empower the bridge-person with a VistA Community Portal. That portal
      should provide the following services:
      - Allow for the submission of improved VistA components back into the
      VA, to be evaluated as Class III code for possible adoption by local VA
      hospitals.
      - Those submissions should always be public unless they are security
      issues, and then they should be made public immediately after being
      confirmed-patched/denied-ignored
      - Publish a list of approved licenses for contributing VistA
      components back (probably from proprietary friendly licenses like Apache,
      Mozilla, BSD, EPL etc etc, or just chose one if that is easier).
      - Organizations that submit patches, or improvements should expect
      that the bridge-person will publicly comment on reasons for
      rejection for a
      particular patch or software, fi the VA will not adopt the software.
      - Have a feature request system, that is accessible only to groups who
      are or represent live VistA instances outside the VA. This should include
      local VA hospital programmers and CACS, people from IHS, representatives
      from foreign organizations like Mexico and Jordan, and private hospitals
      running VistA. This should provide a means for the community to give
      feedback to the VA about the consequences of central VA development
      decisions. However, this would not put the VA in the position of
      accepting
      feature requests from people who merely 'might' use VistA.
      - The features and contributions should be analysed against the current
      VA 'modernization' plan to create a new modernization plan that at least
      partially considers the needs and contributions of outside-VA VistA users.


      Note that this plan is far more conservative than what I have advocated in
      the past.
      http://www.fredtrotter.com/2008/04/18/what-do-about-the-va-crisis-the-aboveground-railroad/

      I would call this a light-weight "open VistA community process". It does not
      presume that the central VA should give up any control that they currently
      hold. Rather, it just creates a formal means for the VA to be open about its
      development decisions regarding VistA.

      But I do not want to put something like this forward without taking comments
      from the community.
      Rather than have this debate on just Hardhats, I want to open it up to
      everyone.

      You can now comment on proposal using a co-ment instance (co-ment is the
      successor to stet which was used to take comments on the GPlv3) that is
      available through http://LibertyHSF.org

      Regards,
      -FT


      --
      Fred Trotter
      http://www.fredtrotter.com


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Maury Pepper
      I couldn t agree more with what Matt said. Perhaps it s incumbent upon us to provide some examples/whitepapers/proof/etc of how the VA will benefit from this
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 10, 2009
        I couldn't agree more with what Matt said. Perhaps it's incumbent upon us to provide some examples/whitepapers/proof/etc of how the VA will benefit from this proposed relationship. It's very likely that they do not understand that the virtuous spiral which worked so well inside the VA to develop DHCP/VISTA can be extended to include a larger domain and all will benefit.


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Matthew King
        To: open-ehealth-collaborative@...
        Cc: Hardhats ; openhealth@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 12:42 PM
        Subject: Re: Open VistA Community Proposal


        Awesome Fred!

        I have a list of things, but Nancy will have a better one, so I will defer to her. I also think Nancy would make a great point person on our side of the arrangement. On the other hand, a small list of key actionable items is preferable to an exhaustive laundry list.

        IMHO, the most important piece by far is the recognition inside the VA that partnering with the outside community is a real benefit to their mission, which is ONLY to the veterans. Until that is internalized with some document, it will be hard for the VA to have a consistent interface with the community and any gains can be lost with a simple change in personnel at any one of many levels. By establishing that benefit in some "official" way, MOUs and other agreements with be much easier and gains will be easier to sustain.

        We desperately need the complete VEHU site and the ICD lexicon

        (OK, I couldn't resist putting at least a couple of things in.)

        matt


        On Fri, Jul 10, 2009 at 1:29 AM, fred trotter <fred.trotter@...> wrote:

        Hi,
        At the CONNECT conference, Brian Behlendorf, Kolodner and several other VA employees who might wish not to be named helped me get a 2 minute audience with the CTO of the VA Peter Levin. We exchanged information and agreed to email. The very fact that there is a CTO of all of the VA, rather than just seperate departments is a huge development, this is a tacit acknowledgement that the VA is a technology creating organization (what a CTO does) rather than a technology managing organization (what a CIO does).

        A few days later I sent him a typical (for me) rant, with about ten links to the various things I have written about the VA and VistA. I told him that I though the attempt to proprietary portions of the code was a bad idea and that the centralization of the development of VistA (as opposed to other VA IT functions) was a bad idea. If any of you have read my blog you can have a pretty good idea of what I put in the email. I basically complained about every failing of the VA that I have heard at the WorldVistA or other FOSS conferences. I tried to have a more positive tone than my standard over-inflammatory style at the prompting of Nancy (thanks for that) and other more calming voices.

        The response that I got back was amazing. He essentially said that he agreed with many of my points, and even sent me some of his own writing that correlates with some of the ideas in my letter. His one criticism was that I was not -asking- for something that he could act on. He specifically asked for a shorter actionable proposal to fix the problems between the VistA community outside the central VA and the VistA community inside the central VA.

        So what do we want from the VA? I can think of several very specific things that I might include in a response. I will throw them out here for community comment and then send a letter based on the consensus (if there is one) on the issue. Here is what I would like to see the VA do.

        a.. Create a bridge-person: Create a role to interface between VistA-inside and VistA-outside. Fill that role with someone who is capable of speaking VistA and open source. Someone like Brian Behlendorf, a federal employee who serves as the community manager for the CONNECT project. That person would be expected to go to WorldVistA conferences etc etc and provide a face for this collaboration.
        b.. Overturn the moratorium of local VA hospital VistA development.
        c.. Reinvest in local VA hospital VistA instances. Centrally managed instances of VistA, with locally deployment. Flawed VistA modules from one hospital should not take down the VistA instance of another hospital.
        d.. Empower the bridge-person with a VistA Community Portal. That portal should provide the following services:
        a.. Allow for the submission of improved VistA components back into the VA, to be evaluated as Class III code for possible adoption by local VA hospitals.
        b.. Those submissions should always be public unless they are security issues, and then they should be made public immediately after being confirmed-patched/denied-ignored
        c.. Publish a list of approved licenses for contributing VistA components back (probably from proprietary friendly licenses like Apache, Mozilla, BSD, EPL etc etc, or just chose one if that is easier).
        d.. Organizations that submit patches, or improvements should expect that the bridge-person will publicly comment on reasons for rejection for a particular patch or software, fi the VA will not adopt the software.
        e.. Have a feature request system, that is accessible only to groups who are or represent live VistA instances outside the VA. This should include local VA hospital programmers and CACS, people from IHS, representatives from foreign organizations like Mexico and Jordan, and private hospitals running VistA. This should provide a means for the community to give feedback to the VA about the consequences of central VA development decisions. However, this would not put the VA in the position of accepting feature requests from people who merely 'might' use VistA.
        e.. The features and contributions should be analysed against the current VA 'modernization' plan to create a new modernization plan that at least partially considers the needs and contributions of outside-VA VistA users.

        Note that this plan is far more conservative than what I have advocated in the past.
        http://www.fredtrotter.com/2008/04/18/what-do-about-the-va-crisis-the-aboveground-railroad/

        I would call this a light-weight "open VistA community process". It does not presume that the central VA should give up any control that they currently hold. Rather, it just creates a formal means for the VA to be open about its development decisions regarding VistA.

        But I do not want to put something like this forward without taking comments from the community.
        Rather than have this debate on just Hardhats, I want to open it up to everyone.

        You can now comment on proposal using a co-ment instance (co-ment is the successor to stet which was used to take comments on the GPlv3) that is available through http://LibertyHSF.org

        Regards,
        -FT

        --
        Fred Trotter
        http://www.fredtrotter.com



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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